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Monday, July 09, 2018

Keep It Simple: Faith and Prayer.

A Sermon Preached for Pentecost Pentecost VII
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Georgetown, DE
July 8, 2018

Have you ever read the Gospel passage for Sunday and have a single word or sentence hit you smack between the eyes like a two-by-four?

These words slapped me right up side my head:
He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.
Right! You guessed it.

I'm an inveterate over-packer. It's all about having options! I need options!

I am not my father's daughter who was all about having "the essentials, the basics". 

That included his use of words.

Every Saturday morning, my father would drive my mother around town to "pay the bills".

My mother believed in seeing the person to whom you owed money and looking them in the eye as you paid them.

She did this with her utility bills, her pharmacy bill, and the clothing she bought for us on layaway at Robert Hall Family Clothing Store.

As soon as they returned home, my father would disappear into the garage.

He had work to do.

For years, every time I asked him what he was doing, it always had something to do with the distributor cap.

It either had to be tightened or cleaned or replaced.

I had no idea what a distributor cap is or does but I knew my father was always working on one.

Years later he bought a new car and I leaned that it did not have a distributor cap.

I couldn't wait for that Saturday afternoon to visit my father in the garage. There he was, car hood open, his body hunched over the engine, a wrench in his hand.

"Hi dad. (A silent nod of the head) Dad? I read that this car doesn't have a distributor cap."

Another silent nod of the head. "Then, Dad? What are you doing?"

Without looking up, my dad said, "Things get loose. Gotta tighten 'em up."

This was his philosophy in life.

I've leaned, over the years, that he was right.

The quality of life is greatly improved by preventive maintenance - regular exercise, a balanced  diet, a good night's sleep.

It also requires disciplined vigilance, a watchful eye. This translates into an annual physical and appropriate diagnostic lab tests and momograms and pap smears for women and prostate screening for prostate cancer for men. And, of course, colonoscopies as advised for men and women.  

And, because of his philosophy of prevantative maintenance, my dad had two simple remedies.

Long before the T-shirts declared it and computer memes shared it, my father's solutions were:

Duck tape and WD40.

If it moves and it shouldn't, DUCK TAPE.

If it should move and it doesn't: WD40.

My theological adaptation of my father's philosophy in life and, in following the admonitions of Jesus, I've determined that that, besides economy in packing, there really are only two things one needs to take on one's spiritual journey.


If your life is chaotic, if things are moving and swirling about, FAITH is the stuff that will give you something to hold onto.

FAITH is spiritual Duck Tape.

If you feel stuck by fear or anxiety or perhaps some situational depression, PRAYER is the stuff that, scripture tells us, moves mountains.

PRAYER is spiritual WD40.

Now, I know. It's a very simplistic approach to life. But, I think I'm on pretty solid ground following the simplicity of Jesus and my father.

And, every now and again, it's nice to hear a simple - and short - message on a gospel that preaches simplicity.

Because, as my father always said,  "Things get loose. Gotta tighten 'em up."

And, when that happens in your spiritual life, all you need is two things:

Faith - to hold you steady.

And, prayer to move mountains.


PS: Sometimes, a preacher has to preach sermons like this. Typically this happens on a hot summer Sunday. In a church with no air conditioning. And, no breeze. From the center aisle. Interacting with the congregation by looking everyone in the eye to make sure no one drowses off from the heat..

Sometimes, it's just too hot to preach anything more complicated than a simple message of faith and prayer. And so, that's what I did.

1 comment:

Marthe said...

Nothing wrong with keeping it simple once and a while. So, maybe you should know it's duct tape (as in tape for joining parts of heating ducts, for which the stuff was designed), not water bird tape. Yup, I'm being annoying because this particular error bugs me. Hope all is well in the LSD zone. :-)